Black women are lifted through empowerment in Irvington

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IRVINGTON, NJ — Learning how to connect with one another, as women, is immensely important. It leads to empowerment. When women are empowered, that strengthens the community. On Dec. 20, HMA Consulting & Motivations hosted “A Woman’s Perspective: Black Women Empowered” via Zoom, focusing on what is needed to make a strong community.

Hosted by Columbia University School of Professional Studies adjunct lecturer Hassan M. Abdulhaqq, five female guest speakers spoke on a plethora of different topics that can benefit community development.

The night began with a screening of Hollywood actress Angela Bassett’s acceptance speech upon receiving the Icon Award at the Black Girls Rock! 2019 Award Show.

“I was working towards my purpose but not so much so that I was willing to compromise my integrity,” Bassett said in the speech, detailing her road to success. “This award show allows us to see each other, even when we don’t see ourselves. When you’re told, ‘You aren’t good enough,’ you tell them you’re more than enough. When they say, ‘You aren’t beautiful,’ you tell them you are a descendant of royalty. We are all black girls who rock.”

This energy of female empowerment kicked off the night’s discussions.

“There isn’t one of anything within our community; we are a beautiful, colorful community and we represent everything,” Irvington Superintendent of Schools April Vauss said. “We can allow for our children to be all of those things. The biggest thing we have to remember, as a community, is getting back to that family basis, where everyone represents the family for that child, especially a mother.

“When we see our child go astray, we don’t just stand by and leave them. We do everything in our power to get them back on track,” Vauss continued. “That’s what we have to do in our community. Be those mothers to the motherless. Never let them feel that feeling of not having a family, or a mother.”

For educator Siddiqah Musa, purposeful womanhood will help to build stronger relationships in communities.

“I believe it’s twofold,” Musa said. “The internal unfolds to the external. The fruits that you allow to flourish build from within your spirit. Some of those fruits are avoiding bitterness, having endurance, perseverance, faithfulness, especially what we’re going through right now, on a day-to-day basis. Also love, seeing the best in all, regardless of what’s shown. Even when students aren’t doing what you’ve asked them to do — still loving them anyway. Nonetheless, it starts in the home first.”

The speakers also discussed how women can live their best lives, highlighting the value in community.

“Surround yourself with like-minded people,” Kandielicious CEO Sherly K. Hyppolite said. “No matter what you do, focus on the person who is doing the same thing you’re doing. Stop trying to be independent. Ask for advice. Mentors are confirmation. Reward yourself. When you gift yourself something for an accomplishment, it gives you motivation, and you’ll remember why you’re doing it in the first place. Know when to say ‘no,’ because when you have a goal that’s going to benefit everyone else once you’re done, sometimes you just have to say ‘no.’”

Aisha Luca, vice president and compliance officer at Home Care, asked the audience to consider this question: “Why not you?”

“Those internal voices that we hear are those voices telling us to stay in our zone,” Lucas said. “You begin to have that lack of knowledge and that lack of self-confidence. ’This is why I can’t do it.’ ‘Not today but maybe tomorrow.’ You hear all those discouraging things in your head. It’s similar to being in your headspace, and your headspace takes control over what needs to happen next.”

According to youth advocate and life coach Amina K.A. Haqq, a successful community needs empowered women and men.

“Part of self-development is building up our men,” Haqq said. “This community will never be anything if we don’t bring our men and undergird our men with us. That’s part of our problem. This is what we’re missing today in our families. It’s one thing to tell someone what they should do, but it’s another thing to guide them, while you’re still striving as well.

“I’m striving to develop myself,” she continued. “I can’t show anyone else how to live if I’m not in that same direction. I’m always focused on the fact that the universe will always give us what we need. It’s important for us to ask and go get it.”